David Coulthard delivers verdict on Max Verstappen’s F1 future

David Coulthard gave his thoughts on how long Max Verstappen will race in Formula 1 for

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David Coulthard predicts Max Verstappen will not continue to race in Formula 1 until his late 30s, unlike Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso.

Verstappen‘s 2023 season was statistically one of the most dominant in F1 history as he won 19 races, including a run of 10 consecutive wins on his way to his third world title.

The Dutchman also joined a club of five drivers, Hamilton, Sebastian Vettel, Michael Schumacher, and Juan Manuel Fangio, to have won three consecutive world championships.

The success of his 2022 and 2023 title campaigns has helped Verstappen become the third most successful F1 driver in terms of race wins with 54. Schumacher is the second most successful with 91 wins, whilst Hamilton currently holds the record for most F1 victories with 103.

“He arrived in a blaze of potential, won his first Grand Prix for Red Bull, had a few learnings along the way, which is inevitable irrespective whether you are a Senna, Schumacher, Verstappen or a Hamilton [but] he’s rounded off into the complete package,” Coulthard exclusively told Total-Motorsport.com.

“So [at] 26 years old, arguably, he’s got at least another good five years in him, some people go off the boil a bit earlier.

“I think Sebastian Vettel could be an example of that. He [produced some] really exceptional performances in the early phase of his career. Then, I think, he was just a good racing driver towards the end of his career, you know, these are only opinions, but their opinions, backed off by relative performance to his teammates.

“Max, I think, will be a force in Formula 1 for as long as he wants to remain in Formula 1. Do I see him still being in Formula 1 at 39 or whatever age Lewis is now? Personally, I don’t.

“Then again, I’m not the fountain of all knowledge or the great predictor, but I think he’s just been so immersed in getting to Formula 1 and achieving in Formula 1 from such an early and intense phase of his life. 

“I would be surprised if he doesn’t, sooner rather than later, decide that he’s had his fill and that there’s a lot of other things he would like to discover in life.”

Formula 1 will go on without Verstappen

Verstappen, whose Red Bull contract expires at the end of 2028, has discussed the possibility of retiring from F1 when his deal concludes with the current constructor champions.

Talk of retirement has started because Verstappen already has an eye on life away from F1 due to his dislike of the Sprint race format run at six GPs and his concerns over the human cost of a growing calendar.

Verstappen wouldn’t be the first driver to bow out on top of F1, with Alain Prost retiring from the sport following his fourth world title with Williams in 1993. Jackie Stewart also retired after his third title in 1973, whilst 1979 world champion Jody Scheckter left the sport after a torrid 1980 season with Ferrari.

Max Verstappen poses for a portrait during Red Bull Racing 2024 Season Launch RB20 in Milton Keynes | Will Cornelius / Red Bull Content Pool
Max Verstappen poses for a portrait during Red Bull Racing 2024 Season Launch RB20 in Milton Keynes | Will Cornelius / Red Bull Content Pool

“Well, Formula 1 continued to grow after the loss of Ayrton Senna, arguably one of the greatest and certainly one of the most charismatic drivers of his time,” said Coulthard.

“So the reality is, with the greatest respect to any single individual you know, life has a habit of continuing on and moving forward. And Formula 1 has continued to capture the public’s imagination.

“It’s the fastest form of circuit racing, it’s a mixture of technology in politics, sport, and outright performance with the human endeavour, the gladiatorial aspect of a driver strapping themselves into 200mph machines has, I think, always resonated with a wide demographic, and I think it’ll continue to do so.”

Reveals details of brief test in RB19

During 2023, Coulthard, who helped deliver Red Bull their first podium with third at the 2006 Monaco GP, was given a chance to drive the team’s all-conquering RB19 during a test session at Silverstone.

Before his test began, Coulthard, who had never driven the new generation of F1 cars, was advised by AlphaTauri‘s Liam Lawson before climbing aboard.

Max Verstappen of Red Bull in the RB19 during the 2023 Brazilian Grand Prix | Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool
Max Verstappen of Red Bull in the RB19 during the 2023 Brazilian Grand Prix | Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool

Once on track, Coulthard quickly got up to speed as he described the feel of a modern F1 car before returning to the pits to be debriefed by Verstappen‘s race engineer Gianpiero Lambiase.

“It was a great honour and a privilege to have the chance to jump in that car and feel what a modern Grand Prix car is like,” explained Coulthard.

“I’m conscious that doing a few laps is nowhere near the same pace as doing a qualifying lap in the car and then having to race it. But first impressions are that it’s a very well-sorted and well-engineered machine, incredibly smooth in its way of heading out onto the racetrack,

“And the functionality, it was reassuring that some of the layout was carryover DNA of a Red Bull from way back in the same way you jump in a Mercedes or BMW road car if you’re a particular driver of that brand of car, there will be similarities. So, it didn’t feel particularly alien. 

“It did feel heavy, and despite having a lot of horsepower, a lot of that is going to overcome the weight of the car, the hybrid engines, of course, give you the instant torque and very impressive initial get up and go. Other than that, it just felt like a race car.”

Ed Spencer
Ed Spencer
FIA accredited journalist
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